Books? A family holiday gave me a chance to dip back into a few paperbacks and e-books, these were my top reads during the fortnight.
Punk Rock: An Oral History – John Robb
This is a real ‘go to’ book for those interested in the early days of punk. I’ve read it through a handful of times, always finding out something new and interesting to pursue online.
The famous and the forgotten from those early days give their accounts, often jogging the memory and detailing the early records that had us dribbling beneath the bed covers.
I had intended to go through the book again and bookmark the interesting anecdotes and forgotten songs, but quickly realised that there was going to be post-its on almost every page, I’ll have to trust to my failing memory.
It’s a great book, you certainly get the feeling that the interviewees open up to John and you get a real feel for how the scene unfolded, and why it continues to this day. This book needs to be on every punk bookshelf.
Adventures in Cuntopia: The Life of a Punk Rock Prom Queen – Colleen Caffeine
Not a coffee table book? Well actually, it’s cool looking and definitely a talking point, (like the author, like the book?) so maybe it will be for some.
Colleen is well known to the Blackpool Rebellion crowd, her band Choking Susan has a big European following. This punk rawk story is just like Blackpool’s Big One, it is an emotional roller-coaster. We are taken on a life journey, never smooth, often poignant and funny and very often quirky. It is littered with her own song lyrics and disjointed thoughts, there is very little that is off limits. Relationships and break-ups, touring, band stuff, we get a real insight into how and why Colleen ticks.
I felt that I got to know the author a bit better, and have been left with nothing but admiration for this fantastically glittering and talented survivor.
I wrestled with an e-reader version, it had the odd missing sentence and no images, but I still whizzed through it. I will be ordering a physical coffee for the coffee table upon my return home.
Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down: Rock n Roll War Stories – Allan Jones
Another book crammed full of entertaining, sometimes funny, sometimes head-shakingly sad, music industry anecdotes. The various vignettes are re-told by a former Melody Maker (chancer) journalist. I imagine that these stories have been well-crafted over the years around various Soho bars and East End pubs.
The timeline format worked well, there’s was some really poignant and interesting stuff, (although I did skip some of the sections) I have no interest in the predictably miserable Van Morrison, nor some old Country and Western has-beens.
Jones manages to bring the various stories to life, I mean, who knew that Creem magazine awarded Black Sabbath the ‘Best Punk Band’ award? But in 1974! Put that in your back pocket when arguing about the date punk was invented……
There’s early Joe Strummer stuff, Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols and a whole host of rock headliners.
Enjoyable and informative, easy to pick up and put down.
Lonely Boy – Steve Jones
This wasn’t really on my reading list, but at less than 2 quid as a download, I jumped in. I had read the first two books mentioned above pretty quickly and was dipping in and out of the other, so I settled down and read the book in three sessions.
If you’re a Sex Pistols fan then I recommend this book, it’s a heart-rending tale of poverty, abuse, burglary, and addiction. I laughed out loud in places, but there were other times when I almost choked.
I love music biographies, and this book is head and shoulders above the other accounts penned by the other band members. I’m not sure how accurate it is (maybe the author is unsure too), pay the price of a burger and see for yourself.
There was also a couple that I didn’t get time for, but those are different stories.